Home Grown: Nashi
Crisp and crunchy nashi pears are just as cold-hardy as common pears.
But need fewer chilling hours to produce fruit, making them a delicious choice for every climate zone in Australia.
Nashi pears, Pyrus pyrifolia, are generally grafted onto either the rootstock of common pears, Pyrus domestica, or dwarfing quince stock. This means they are easy-going in regards to soil, handling light or heavy ground, wet or dry soils, with aplomb. To get trees off to a cracking start, top-dress them with compost after planting. Feed in late winter and late summer before major flushes of growth. Mature trees can set epic crops, but for quality fruit, it pays to thin fruitlets when they are about thumb-sized.
Don’t wait for fruit to soften like a regular pear. Instead, pick nashis once the fruit are plump and fully coloured, typically in March and April.
Typical nashi pests include Queensland fruit fly, codling moth and marauding wildlife. Your best defense against each is to cover the trees with a finely woven net once pollination is complete.
Major outbreaks of pear and cherry slug can defoliate and weaken the tree. Coat the slugs with woodash, which is a desiccant, or spray the foliage with Dipel.
When choosing cultivars, pay particular attention to pollination. Some cultivars are self-pollinating, others require a partner to set fruit - either another nashi, or a common pear will do the business. Ensure you also choose the right cultivar for your climate.
‘Nijisseiki’ - partly self-pollinating, bearing quality crops of juicy, mild-flavoured fruit.
‘Hosui’ - very large, sweet fruit that looks like a round, russeted apple. Needs another nashi or common pear for pollination.
‘Sunshu’ - a very low-chill, self-pollinating cultivar, suited to coastal areas from Sydney to Mackay. High quality, pear-shaped fruit.